The Five Communication Styles

At Christmas remember to breathe, especially when faced with ‘special occasion’ family dramas. Virginia Satir was a Family Therapist who is best know for her work in ‘reconstructing’ families. She defined different roles within the family, which may be useful to understand this Christmas. She labels five key communication styles which come into play when a person feels emotionally threatened in some way.

The ideal position is Congruent, which is a balanced approach acknowledging what s/he, and what others, are thinking and feeling. Physically they carry an open, relaxed stance. The other four are reactive, survival stances, and we generally resort to these when under pressure. The Placator is the one who disregards their own feelings and focuses on the thoughts and feelings of others, which creates stress. Their posture is timid and reserved. The Blamer on the other hand needs to be right all the time – you know that person? They ignore others’ needs, and they need to learn empathy. They point, and look angry, and stiff. The Super-reasonable resorts to external sources to build their logic upon, whether it’s a legal framework, religious, or other. Think Dr Spock. They appear cold and distant in their demeanour, and think according to the rules. Lastly is the Irrelevant who distracts, like the class clown. During emotional crisis, they avoid or go ‘off topic’. They sometimes appear hyper or absent.

Who’s who at your table this Christmas? Need help with your relationships? Book a session